If You Can Keep It

By Eric Metaxas

Who would think an offhanded comment by Benjamin Franklin would reverberate through history and land so forcefully on our ears. Franklin, "the sage of the Constitution" was walking out of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 when a Mrs. Powell asked, "Well, doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?" 

Franklin, never short on words, shot back, "A republic, if you can keep it."

Metaxas builds on that historic interchange, showing us again and again that liberty is freedom for others. "We are ourselves this moment the keepers of the flame of liberty and the ones charged by Franklin and the other founders ... with the keeping of this grand promise to the world." (page 11)

Metaxas explains, encourages, and pleads for us to love America. But this is far more than American "rah rah." Metaxas reminds us why Winthrop saw this land as a "City on a Hill," why Lincoln called America God's "almost chosen people," and why as our sixteenth President also said America is "the best great hope of Earth." It is in answering the "WHY" that I find his case so compelling.

Eric Metaxas is quick to note that freedom will only survive if we can keep that original self-giving, self-sacrificing ideal we know as liberty. His concluding summary:

So go forth and love America, knowing that if your love is true it will be transmuted one way or another into a love of everything that is good beyond America, which is her golden promise to the world, and the promise that we, you and I, must keep.

This is a strong sentiment, but as I noted Metaxas moves ways beyond emotion. He explains why feelings of patriotic apathy abound and how to resuscitate love of country with resorting to tribalism, jingoism and a current political mood of "America first." He moves beyond partisan politics. 

His mood of American exceptionalism is strong, but his ideas are historically well-grounded in the words of Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and others. Metaxas connects the dots between liberty and heroes, liberty and leaders of integrity, love of liberty and love of God. 

This is a book to be read and studied.

5 Reasons To Read (and two more)

1. His thesis: Liberty is not freedom to live for ourselves, but for others -- "If we can keep it."
2. His explanation of "The golden triangle." 
3. His explanation of the "liberal" and "conservative" misunderstandings of freedom. 
4. His emphasis on why we must re-initiate telling the stories of our nation's heroes.
5. His care to supply the YBH (Yes, but how) to his conjecture that we must love America.
6. His discussion on the importance of the role of George Whitefield in American freedom.
7. His metaphors: training wheels, Iron Man suit, cartoon character in midair, tornado, cut flower.